Advent, Reflectionary

Unknown Hope

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Matthew 24:36

Advent begins with Jesus asking us to hold onto hope in an unknown: God’s change is coming, but we don’t know when. We are at risk of missing it when it does arrive because we are sleepy, or distracted, or too busy with the work in front of us to notice anything else. 

We might expect Jesus to be in the know on things of major importance, but that’s not what he tells the disciples. He believes God will make some kind of change in the status quo, but he admits he doesn’t know when, even though it revolves around him. I wonder how sure Matthew’s Jesus is about his status. Does he wonder whether he has accomplished what he came to do? Will any of this matter to anyone in the long run? 

I’m reminded of those uncomfortable times in my life when I knew something – a job, a relationship, a particular sense of identity I held – was coming to an end. Even when I knew the ending was appropriate, I felt uneasy, unsure of how life would change and who I would be on the other side. 

That feels to me like the apocalyptic dynamic of our time, the worry people of faith carry with them. We thought we knew what it meant to be God’s people. We had an idea of what we hoped God might do. But given the state of the world, we may wonder how we once managed to be so sure, why it is taking God so long to set things right, and whether there is something we need to do, right now, to make things better. 

As Advent begins, may we sit in the discomfort with Jesus, on the edge of what is coming next.


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